Unless you've been walking around with your eyes shut for the last year you'll know that Ella Woodward aka. blogger Deliciously Ella is a pretty big deal. A staunch advocate of organic living, her self-titled healthy cookbook is the biggest selling book on Amazon for 2015 and she's frequently credited for the rise in sales of superfoods, green juices and the like.
Like anybody that puts themselves out there, Ella has her haters. Sometimes they're funny and mostly harmless (see: Deliciously Stella), but there can be a nastier darker side to it all and whilst its hard to believe some people can get so riled by pictures of kale juice, they really really do. Ella is just a normal 24 year old girl who has found a bit of a niche for herself and is doing well with it, so leave her alone.
As you can probably tell, I like her, so, when I was invited to have dinner with Ella at Wholefoods in High St Ken, I was quite excited. Ella was there ostensibly to talk about how do-able organic eating can be - highlighting Organic UK's #ThriftyOrganic message. Earlier this year, she and the rest of the Deliciously Ella team were all challenged to eat organically for a week with just £59 per couple (apparently the average spend in the UK). As someone who has come in for a lot of flack for my food bill, organic or otherwise, I was keen to see Ella do her stuff.
Ella is all about nourishing the body with mainly plant based foods (and in particular no sugar, wheat, dairy - plus she's veggie, but you don't have to be) and we started with an aperitif of cucumber, pear and mint juice to kick things off - apparently this came in at £1.50 per portion - and felt lovely and light and cleansing.
Ella showed us some of her favourite kitchen tips and tricks for easy organic living - like making your own oat or nut milk, making a big batch of hummus from chickpeas or any other veggies you have hanging around, and tahini. Tahini makes everything better. Crucially, everything was prepared at record speed - so don't be put off by thinking healthy eating takes loads of time.
There was some spiralising, then we were presented with her Courgette Noodles with Avocado Pesto, coming in at £1.49 per portion. I make this at home quite a bit and its a good easy one. I'd rather have it warm though, as this was served icy cold!
The Potato, Kale & Hummus Salad (50p) was tasty, warming and had a nice chilli kick - but maybe felt like more of a side dish. Although, if you're only spending 50p then you can hopefully afford to have a small piece of fish or chicken alongside it.
Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto was a hit around the table, and for £1.49 a portion made a filling and nourishing meal.
We finished with a Raspberry & Coconut Mousse that comes in at £2.10 per portion, but for something that tasty that doesn't involve refined sugar then frankly witchcraft must be involved (or avocado; lots and lots of avocado).
I think you can see that eating organically doesn't have to be expensive. However, as someone who has eaten exclusively organic foods for a week, I know that it can be difficult. You have to be organised, and ultimately many foods are a bit pricier - as you would expect from produce that has had that little bit more love and care.
There is a handy list here of the foods that are most contaminated with pesticides, so if you can afford it these are the ones you should really try to but organic.
And here is a list of those that are pretty much ok, so don't worry about shelling out the extra.
Organic UK also have the following tips to help you put organic food on the menu for less:
- Plan ahead. This is so important if you don't want to be caught out and end up having to buy expensive last minute ingredients or see things go to waste. Buy a big chicken and let it do the week's work for you.
- Eat seasonally. Seasonal food is always cheaper. And nicer.
- Bulk out your Bolognese. We eat way too much meat anyway; chucking a few chickpeas or cubes of squash into your curry / stew / chilli is cheaper and healthier.
- Buy in bulk. Organic UK suggest teaming up with family and friends to do this. If this isn't practical as it wouldn't be for me, then still buy large quantities and cook it all in bulk too, so you always have a freezer crammed with accessible tasty food.
Thank you Organic UK and Deliciously Ella for a fun, tasty and informative evening x